Call for medics at Racecourse games after serious injuries

Men's football at the Racecourse. 'Northampton Sapphires (blue) V Kislingbury (red).
Men's football at the Racecourse. 'Northampton Sapphires (blue) V Kislingbury (red).

Ambulance service bosses said it would benefit football clubs at the Racecourse, in Northampton, to have their own medical help on standby after five players were seriously hurt in one morning.

Injuries at the park on Sunday included one player with a badly broken leg, who had to wait an hour and 35 minutes for an ambulance .

Steven Law, the referee of the fixture between Tesco DG FC and South Northants, spoke to the Chron after the match, saying the delay was “disgusting” and that when an ambulance did arrive at the Racecourse it first went to one of the other injured players on another pitch.

But the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) said it would be a good idea for the Racecourse and other parks to have their own medically- trained people.

Debbie Tweddle, from EMAS, said: “It benefits members of clubs or groups when the organisers of sporting events involving many people arrange for their own medical cover to be present throughout.

“The medically-trained people already on site can respond immediately to any traumatic injury or illness to provide treatment, care and reassurance.

“This proactive approach also means we are able to continue to use our emergency ambulance vehicles, kitted out with life-saving equipment and crewed by highly- skilled clinicians, to respond to people whose life is at immediate risk.”

EMAS said its report of the accidents during last Sunday’s matches at the Racecourse showed five separate patients – three with leg injuries, two with ankle injuries – and a record that there was no medical cover on site.

One league secretary, Roger Gamble, of the Northampton Sunday Combination, said: “I think medical cover is a great idea because it would make players feel safer. My worry is that it already costs clubs a lot in all sorts of fees to play a game.

“If we’re charging them more to have St John Ambulance there, I’m not sure it would be affordable.”

Referee Steven Law said the footballer with a badly broken leg was “screaming in pain and struggling for breath” for 95 minutes while waiting for an ambulance.

He abandoned the match between Tesco DG FC and South Northants after only four minutes because of the injury but, despite several calls, paramedics were too busy to attend straight away. Deborah Tweddle, of EMAS, said: “I’m sorry for the distress caused. We’re making changes to our service to improve our response. This 999 call was categorised as a traumatic injury, not life-threatening, requiring a 30-minute response. We were unable to get to the scene in that time, so we phoned to make a welfare check on the patient. An ambulance became available, having come from a cardiac arrest, and they were dispatched to the pitch.”